THE newly appointed secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. faces two formidable challenges. First is how to increase overall farm productivity and second, how to tame rising food prices. There are undeniably a multitude of challenges hounding the sector but these two are the most critical ones if the goal of attaining food security is to be achieved.
If overall farm productivity remains low (the growth rate has averaged 1 percent annually for more than two decades), there is no way local supply can meet the ever-rising demand of a population that is growing by an average of 1.3 to 1.5 percent annually. If supply is unable to keep up, it is inevitable that food prices will keep on rising.